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Four Out Of Five Consumers Chew Bubble Gum, (But NIMBY)

Its all how you phrase the question.

The Gallup Poll did a survey on consumer attitudes toward the housing market Seven in 10 Consumers Expect Housing Bubble to Burst [Gallup] [1] yet 6 out of 10 think their local markets are fine.

The problem with this kind of survey is that the presentation is misleading, and because it is done by such a reputable company, it demonstrates the disconnect between certain elements of the media and the market itself. Now I don’t claim to know how to take a poll, but the survey was gathered by telephone based on 1,004 adult interviews. That seems kind of light to me.

First of all, Gallup uses the word bubble to characterize the real estate market, which infers imminent collapse. Whether or not you agree with that result is not the point. The survey therefore appears biased from the onset.

The title of the article Seven in 10 Consumers Expect Housing Bubble to Burst [Gallup] [1] suggests that this is the way we feel about our housing market.

Yet in small subtitles the survey says Still, only about 4 in 10 expect housing prices in their areas to remain the same or decline. Why wasn’t it presented in reverse? Probably because its not as titilating.

Gallup breaks out consumer reaction to a national housing bubble and local housing bubble which is the most telling aspect of such a survey. Here’s the summary

So basically, consumers feel there is a problem on a national level but feel their local markets are relatively safe. Two assumptions can be made about the the significant disparity between local and national perceptions of the market.

Firstly, on a local level, consumers are more informed about the nuances of their market than they are about the overall market. This makes a broad statement that real estate is a local affair.

On the other side of the argument, it could mean that consumers are in denial about the market and tend to agree with national reporting because it does not necessarily have a direct impact on their own property.

Since we know that housing markets are made up of slow and expensive transactions [WP] [2] that are impacted by local influences like zoning, location, etc., then I would tend to agree with the local perception, and, on a national level, the situation might appear more grave because its easier to cover in the media.

Either way, I don’t chew much gum.